February 2013

February 1 2013: A monthly selection of the best new research and resources on local peacebuilding worldwide, as chosen by Insight on Conflict. This month’s edition features articles listening to aid recipients, governance in Africa and more Sign up here to receive the newsletter by email each month.

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Research this month

Time to listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid

Their stories are powerful and full of lessons for those who care enough to listen and to hear the ways that people on the receiving side of aid suggest it can become more effective and accountable.

Time to listen [pdf] brings together the results of the Listening Project. The project was set up to talk to the people at the ground level of international aid – recipients  providers and observers – of their experiences and perceptions of aid. Over 6,000 conversations were held over seven years. The book contains valuable grassroots insights as to how aid benefits – or not – local people and communities.

Piecing it together: Post-conflict security in an Africa of networked, multilevel governance

Post-conflict governance systems have become more multileveled and networked than in the immediate post-independence era, and these local systems and the resolution of their problems, are key to the restoration of order. International actors are also central, as their prominence in networks ensures resources for reconstruction and development.

Piecing it together, from the Institute of Development Studies, is a collection of articles examining post-conflict governance in Africa, in particular governance outside of formal government structures. The articles draw on examples from DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia, amongst others.

PARECO: Land, local strongmen and the roots of militia politics in North Kivu

While PARECO was integrated into the national army in 2009, the recent M23 rebellion threatens to give a new impetus to rural militias, including those with roots in he Hutu community, with devastating consequences for the civilian population.

PARECO: Land, local strongmen and the roots of militia politics in North Kivu, from the Rift Valley Institute, provides an in-depth look at the history and motives of the PARECO armed group in DR Congo. The report is the part of the Usalama project, which aims to provide a deeper understanding of armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

Research and policy implications from a micro-level perspective on the dynamics of conflict, violence and development

At a fundamental level, the factors that explain the outbreak, the continuation, the end and the consequences of violent conflict are closely interrelated with how people behave, make choices and interact with their immediate surroundings, and how all these factors may shape the lives and livelihoods of those exposed to conflict and violence.

This working paper is a chapter from a forthcoming book “A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development”. The book is the result of the MICROCON research project into the “micro-level” dimensions of conflict. The paper argues for a new approach to conflict analysis that takes into account these dynamics.

Community early warning systems: guiding principles

The present guiding principles of community early warning systems is a living document that launches a process to compile and capitalize on a rich and growing body of evidence and effort.

Community early warning systems: guiding principles, from the IFCR, aims to bring together best practice and examples of success, in community early warning systems. The publication is intended as a guide for practitioners working with any kind of early warning system involving community level information gathering.

How the local matters: Democratization in Libya, Pakistan, Yeman, and Palestine

A shared message is that although ‘going local’ is bound to be difficult, it provides a potential avenue for improving everyday governance and reaching ‘ordinary’ people in fragile states

How local matters [pdf], from the Danish Institute for International Studies, examines democratisation in fragile states. Drawing on four case studies – Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Palestine – the paper makes the case for ‘going local’ as a way to encourage more effective and sustainable statebuilding and democratisation.

Signposting success: Civil society in Afghanistan

The cross analysis of 40 civil society entities has revealed seven key factors that drive success among this sample: positioning; organizational structure; reputation; financial sustainability; geographic coverage; influence in advocacy; and the ability to develop synergies.

Signposting success, from Internews, looks at examples of successful Afghan civil society organisations, movements and networks. The report seeks to identify what made them successful, any commonalities between them, and how they can be further supported. 

From the Blog

The challenges of developing ‘locally-owned’ development programmes

Development actors may avoid local ownership because of the potential risks it can bring, and because of a belief in the technocratic expertise they bring with them. Jen Jones argues that to avoid local ownership, not only risks fuelling tensions by favouring certain groups over others, but also means missed opportunities for local ownership to contribute to sustainable peace. Read more »

Interview: Local zones of peace: communities withdrawing from conflict

Local Zones of Peace are communities that have chosen to remove themselves from a wider conflict. Landon E. Hancock, co-editor of ‘Local Peacebuilding and National Peace’, speaks to Insight to Conflict about the role local Zones of Peace can, and have, played in building peace. Read more »

Looking for justice in the Guatemalan highlands

In the highlands of Guatemala following the 36-year civil war, crime and violence ravages families and communities unchecked due to the alarmingly weak judicial system. Law and order, disrupted for so long, have created a struggle to successfully investigate and prosecute crimes, leading to vigilante justice taking the place of trials and prison terms. However, in one mountain town a sort of organic justice is starting to evolve, where traditional indigenous authorities and the ‘official’ town government are finally willing to cooperate to find a road to conflict resolution and peace. Read more »

Education – The instrument of peace in Kashmir

A growing number of young people in Kashmir are suffering from emotional despair, low self-esteem, a lack of cultural connectivity and a loss of values. They are angry at their situation and susceptible to political overtures and groups that hope to profit from their situation. If the current negative attitudes that permeate through Kashmiri society are not dealt with and brought to the foreground to be explored, many fear the situation will worsen. One answer to the turmoil may lie in the education system, where current teaching methods can be supplemented with peace driven initiatives. Read more »

Training military forces in local capacity

Often local civil society’s efforts are invisible to outsiders. Too often, countries at war are portrayed by the media as harbourers of corrupt politicians, violent insurgents, and innocent victims. There is no conceptual category for the locally led efforts of people showing leadership, innovation, and great compassion for their neighbours. Lisa Schirch discusses how military forces can be trained in understanding local capacity. Read more »

Reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka

Differing conceptualisations of the term ‘reconciliation’ has sparked a debate regarding the best way to approach the issue. Whilst government policy is firmly concerned with reconciling the state with society, a number of organisations are attempting inter-community reconciliation. Oliver Walton investigates the divide between these approaches. Read more »

Women’s struggle for peace in Colombia

Betty Puerto Barrera is a Colombian peace activist. Her peace work has focused particularly on women and the struggle to end all forms of violence that are suffered by women in Colombia. She currently forms part of one of Colombia’s oldest women’s organisational processes, the People’s Women’s Organisation, and forms part of a nationwide platform promoting a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. In mark of 25th November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we spoke with Betty about her work in Colombia and her experience as a woman activist in the struggle for peace. Read more »

Peace initiatives on the Sotik/Borabu Border in Kenya

Despite the apparent return to peace after the terrible events of the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence, complex pockets of conflicts are now more than ever embedded in Kenya’s territory and history. Such pockets of conflict, which are formed along ethnic lines, are making some fear over the country’s stability when Kenyan citizens will be called once again to the polls in March this year. Valentina Baú investigates one such conflict in a rural area of the Kenyan Rift Valley: that of cattle rustling on the Sotik/Borabu border. Read more »

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